Budgeting for your first job

Written by: Money Advice Service
Published on: 1 Feb 2020

The information below has been provided by the Money Advice Service.

There are a range of things you may need to budget for when you first start work. We look at some of the costs you might come across as you start your working life, and ways you can reduce them.

Things to budget for

There are many everyday costs associated with going to work, from how you get there to the clothes you wear. Some of the most common costs are:


Not many people live within walking distance of their workplace, so unless you cycle, you’ll need to pay for your travel costs.

If you’re using public transport, it’s normally cheapest to buy a season ticket that lasts a whole year.

Some employers offer an interest-free loan to buy the season ticket which is then repaid over the course of the year.

Read more about the costs of running a car so you can compare them to the cost of public transport. 


If your job requires special clothing or a uniform, this is usually provided by your employer.

When it comes to everyday work clothes, such as suits or other smart clothing, you’ll have to buy it yourself.

Work clothes can be expensive, but shop around the high street and even supermarkets to find reasonably priced workwear ranges. You could also check auction websites for ‘nearly new’ bargains.

Food and drink

You’ll probably be at work during lunch, so you’ll need to decide whether you’ll buy it there or take your own in.

Buying from shops every day can become expensive, though some larger companies have canteens providing relatively cheap meals for employees.

Mobile phone

Being away from your friends and family while at work may mean that you need to use your phone more than usual.

Check you’re not going over any allowances you have and, if you are, consider changing your phone tariff.

Take a look at how to reduce the costs of your mobile phone

Making your budget work

Your budget should show all of your income for a set period, such as a week or month, along with all the things you spend your money on (your expenditure).

Your income for the month can easily be taken from your payslip – remember to use your net pay figure.

Your expenditure should cover all the things you pay for during a month – this will include an estimate of the costs associated with your going to work.

The expenditure in your budget should never be higher than your income. If this is the case, you’re spending more than you earn and could end up in debt.

Find out more about getting information from your payslip

Explore what the everyday costs of living are. 

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.